CEO turnover spiked in early 2021: study

Companies saw record breaking number CEO appointments in the first half of 2021, according to a study published Thursday. 

Seventy-six 76 CEOs were appointed in the first half of 2021, according to a study from recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles. The figure was 22 percent higher than the highest turnover in 2018. 

The most recent report included the 1,095 of the largest public companies, marked the highest number of appointments in any six-month period among the 14 countries that the firm has been tracking since 2018. 


Reuters noted that the top-level career changes come as burned out CEOs have spent months grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Our belief is that it will only accelerate going into next year as people have delayed their retirements," Jeff Sanders, co-managing partner of Heidrick's global CEO and board practice, said to Reuters.

The high turnover rate could be part of a trend of U.S. workers voluntarily leaving their jobs. The number of workers who voluntarily left their jobs in the United States reached an all-time high in September, with roughly 4.4 million people quitting. 

Apart from the turnover, the study made noted other trends, like who specifically was taking over leadership positions. 

Despite some increases in women serving in CEO roles, women still accounted for a low percentage of the appointments. Thirteen percent of the CEOs appointed in the first half of 2021 were women, a notable increase from 6 percent in the second half of 2020, but still a low share of the total, according to Heidrick.

Thirty-two percent of the CEOs newly appointed had C-suite experience. But a majority of those appointed in 2021 had experience in jobs like chief risk officer, chief strategy officer and chief technology officer, the study showed.